Today, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent.
Traditionally Lent has been a time of prayer and penance in the lead up to the beginning of Spring and Easter day.
In Australia of course our seasons are the opposite way around and we head into Autumn. One of my favourite Easter hymns Tis 382 "Now the green blade rises", reminds me of the cereal grain planting season in eastern Australia. Seeds buried in the dark earth come to life and sprout green shoots around Easter time, they reminding me of new life emerging and the harvest that is to come. It may not be spring time but new life emerges just the same.
Some people give things up for Lent as a way of focusing on the coming sacrifice of Jesus.
Some folks fast during Lent as a spiritual discipline, examining their lives and committing themselves to love God and neighbour. In this sense it is a similar process to the fasting associated with Ramadan.
Of course the other way to go is to add something positive to Lent that connects you spiritually to the story of Lent and Easter.
I pray that the journey of Lent this year will a blessing to you.